FIGURED YOU OUT

Callie Johnston

I had lived a too sheltered life to be prepared for the tsunami that was you. You entered my life and turned it upside down. You were older, braver, experienced and my heart was yours before you even considered taking it. With your smile and confidence you charmed your way inside my cold and somewhat aloof exterior. I always thought that would be hard to achieve, but you proved me wrong.

You took me by storm, you seduced me, made me yours before I had a chance to protect my innocent heart from the turbulent love you offered. You were wild, as was your life. The summer was nearly over and as the tourists left town the beach was a solitude place for us to spend our nights. The air was still warm, the water smelled of salt and it mingled with the scent of your perfume. We used to build a small fire, cuddle close to keep the chill of the oncoming autumn away and you'd talk. You'd talk about all and nothing. Your voice was alluring - its huskiness tempted me and its softness made me cling to every word uttered. Your voice preached throughout the night, filling my head with things I hadn't even dared to wrap my mind around before.

I don't think you ever ran out of words, but sometimes you'd stop talking and instead stare at me. Your eyes would look into mine and I'd feel naked yet exhilarated as your gaze wrapped around my inner turmoil and left me alert. You saw something in me that I'd never seen myself something daring, something as close to the edge as you were. It enticed me. It made me want to be like you.

I can still recall how you looked as you stripped of your clothes before making your way towards the water. You'd stand before me, pulling your sweater off and throwing it into the blackness outside of the light our small fire supplied. With a winning smile you'd lower your pants and as they bunched up on the sand, around your feet, you'd get a dangerous glint in your eyes. I loved you then. I loved the picture of you naked in the firelight, the freckles on your chest visible to my amazed eyes. Then you'd turn and run towards the water, leaving me two steps behind, chasing you and never quite catching up.

After a while we'd leave the ocean behind and return to the warmth of the fire. You'd hold me close to keepme from shivering and soon we'd be making love. The sand and coal would leave your knees dirty and I'd think of our time together as untamed and beautiful. We'd stay curled together, whispering sweet nothingsuntil the sun came up and the reality of daylight made us escape into your bed. We'd sleep, tangled in sheets with the salty smell of the ocean and of us. Sometimes I'd stay awake to watch you dream, trying to figure you out.

When you awoke you'd drag me out towards parts of town I'd never seen. We'd visit buildings I believed uninhabited for years and there you'd show me a world way beyond my own. At first I was taken aback by it all - I'd been told this was wrong. Yet I trusted you, believed you, as you told me this would be as good as our lovemaking - for that I had been told was wrong as well.

In this, to me new, world we'd meet people. They were like you - people with secrets and with a faint trace of wilderness to them. You knew all of them and their secrets. You'd play the game - get what you wanted, what you needed. You were powerful and experienced yet you never could say "No". I just didn't understand that until later. I thought you played them, but instead they played you.

The only one you played was me. I was from wealth and you were quick to make me pay. I was happy to do so. I could give you something. I could provide. I could feel special, for I could give you what you wanted. I could buy lines for us both and I did. The nights on the beach became fuzzier and we'd sleep throughout the light hours of day. The joyful lovemaking was forgotten as something else became our focus. Too many long lines in a row and I recall your face - no longer hinting at an enticing dangerousness but instead exhausted with lazy grins and with powder on your nose.

I think it was on one of the last days before the cold autumn air chased the last vestiges of summer away that I realized that your want had turned into need. You had started begging. Your pride and self respect were as foreign as the sunny days we'd spent together as you looked up at me and said "Please". "Please could I go and buy more? Please could I give you more?" Of course I could, I still loved you. I still loved you as your dress was stained and you lay passed out on the deck. In my eyes you were still the most intriguing woman I had met. You were my first love and I was captivated by you. I'd put my arms around you, to help you back inside, back onto our twisted sheets on your bed. You'd smile at me and kiss me, my hands would caress your neck as I searched for the spark in your eyes - that dangerous glint I'd fallen in love with. Before I could find it and before we reached the bed you were passed out once again. That's when I figured you out.

I started to dislike the places you'd shown me. I disliked the people surrounding us, playing us, making our lives more complicated as my money dwindled. Soon the dislike turned into hate. I hated your weaknesses, I hated who you'd become - who I'd become. I hated what the powder had done to us. I hated what too many lines had done to our lives and to our love. I hated that I'd figured you out.

***

Now here I am - standing with a bag in my hand, holding a ticket in the other. The airport is busy and although the air conditioning is on it doesn't seem to be able to take the warm stickiness from the air. The summer is too hot, reminding me of the warm nights spent on the beach together with you. I smile feeling wistful for the days when our lives were going great and we were happy together. I can still see clearly how you looked, naked in the flickering firelight, your small frame, freckles and red highlights - to me as wild and alluring as the fire.

Now I spot you standing by the gate, your eyes shining, searching. Your eyes meet mine and warmth spreads throughout my chest. I smile again, to say "Hello", to invite you back into my life. As I get nearer I can see the glint in your eyes - no longer dangerous, just warm, inviting and full of love. You smile an adventurous smile, so much like the one I remember when your pants were around your feet, bunched up on the sand. I smile back and take your hand, leaving the airport together I think to myself"I'm glad I figured you out".

*THE END*